Keeping your bicycle rolling

Tips for finding a bike repair shop and knowing when you need one.
As kids, few of us could wait until the day we could ditch our bikes and drive everywhere. Today, it's not uncommon to find someone giving up the old Sunday drive for the pleasure of a nice long bike ride.

Whether it's on-road or off, biking can be a great way to get some exercise. And since your bike will make you feel better, here are a few tips to keep your bike in perfect health with some regular service:
  • Know your bike

  • It's wise to familiarize yourself with the basic operations of your bike. Read your owner's manual, consult your bike manufacturer's website or talk to an expert. Many routine maintenance procedures are easy to do at home. What's more, you'll be more likely to have a solution if your bike malfunctions while you're on a ride, far away from a service shop.

  • Adapt to your conditions

  • Bikes respond differently based on the environment(s) in which you ride them. Even rugged mountain bikes may need more frequent tune-ups if they are ridden in rain, mud, or exceedingly dusty conditions. Keeping your bike clean is a must to extend the life of your parts, but even cleanliness won't make up for excessive wear and tear. As a baseline, you should look at having a professional tune-up for your bike at least twice a year.

  • Professional bikes require professional service

  • Most bicycle shops offer service on bikes they sell, as well as service for bikes of similar makes and models. See these profiles of bike shops.

    Expect to be turned away to do the work yourself if you take a bike you bought at a department store to be professionally serviced. Usually the parts and expertise at bike shops tend to be geared toward higher-end (meaning higher-priced) bikes. When you buy a higher-end bike, talk to the dealer about their service plans. Some shops offer free or discounted service for the bikes they sell.

  • It may not be pedal-in, pedal-out

  • Major tune-ups or significant repair jobs take time, at least a few hours. If the shop is busy, you might be without your bike for a day or two. Plan on having an alternate mode of transportation to get back home. If you're just looking for a minor adjustment, most bike shops should be able to handle that while you wait.

  • Listen

  • A good bike technician can tell how you're riding simply from working on your bike. Ask for advice about regular maintenance and riding techniques (such as shifting) that can help reduce wear on your bike. Remember that most bike technicians are avid riders themselves and can offer great insight.

    Bicycling is a fantastic source of exercise and recreation for the whole family. If you keep your bike in shape it will do the same for you.

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